Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary




I is the ninth letter, and the third vowel of the English Alphabet. We receive it through the Latin and Greek from the Shemitic jod, je, or ye, in Greek iwra, whence our English word jot. The vowel in French, and in most European languages, has the long fine sound which we express by e in me, or ee in seen, meek. This sound we retain in some foreign words which are naturalized in our language, as in machine, intrigue. But in most English words this long sound is shortened, as in holiness, pity, gift; in which words the sound of i coincides with that of y in hypocrite, cycle, and at the end of words, in unaccented syllables, as in holy, glory. It is this short sound of the French and Italian i, which we hear in the pronunciation of been, which we pronounce bin. After l, this letter has sometimes the liquid sound of y, as in million, pronounced milyon. This sound corresponds with that of the Hebrews, as in Joseph, which in Syria is pronounced Yoseph, and with the sound of the German j, as in ja, jahr, that is ya, yahr.

The sound of i long, as in fine, kind, arise, is diphthongal; it begins with a sound approaching that of broad a, but it is not exactly the same, as the organs are not opened to the same extent, and therefore the sound begins a little above that of aw. The sound, if continued, closes with one that nearly approaches to that of e long. This sound can be learned only by the ear. This letter enters into several digraphs, as in fail, field, seize, feign, vein, friend; and with o in oil, join, coin, it helps to form a proper diphthong.

No English word ends with i, but when the sound of the letter occurs at the end of a word, it is expressed by y.

As a numeral I signifies one, and stands for as many units as it is repeated in times, as II, two, III, three, etc. When it stands before V or X, it subtracts itself, and the numerals denote one less than the V or the X. Thus IV expresses four, one less than V, five; IX stands for nine, one less than X, ten. But when it is placed after V or X, it denotes the addition of an unit, or as many units as the letter is repeated in times. Thus VI is five and one, or six, and XI is ten and one, or eleven; VIII stands for five and three, or eight, etc.

I, formerly prefixed to some English words, as in ibuilt, is a contraction of the Saxon prefix ge; and more generally this was written y.

I, pron. [L. ego.] The pronoun of the first person; the word which expresses one’s self, or that by which a speaker or writer denotes himself. It is only the nominative case of the pronoun; in the other cases we use me. I am attached to study; study delights me. We often hear in popular language the phrase it is me, which is now considered to be ungrammatical, for it is I. But the phrase may have come down to us from the use of the Welsh mi, or from the French use of the phrase, c’est moi.

In the plural, we use we, and us, which appear to be words radically distinct from I.

Johnson observes that Shakespeare uses I for ay or yes. In this he is not followed, and the use is incorrect.

IAMBIC, n. [L. imabicus;] Pertaining to the iambus, a poetic foot consisting of two syllables, a short one followed by a long one.

IAMBIC, IAM’BUS, n. [L. iambus.] In poetry, a foot consisting of two syllables, the first short and the last long, as in delight. The following line, consists wholly of iambic feet.

He scorns the force that dares his fury stay.

IAMBICS, n. plu. Verses composed of short and long syllables alternately. Anciently, certain songs or satires, supposed to have given birth to ancient comedy.

IBEX, n. [L.] The wild goat of the genus Capra, which is said to be the stock of the tame goat. It has large knotty horns reclining on its back, is of a yellowish color, and its beard is black. It inhabits the Alps.

The Aegagras, or wild goat of the mountains of Persia, appears to be the stock of the tame goat. The IBex is a distinct species.

IBIS, n. [Gr. and L.] A fowl of the genus Tantalus, and grallic order, a native of Egypt. The bill is long, subulated, and somewhat crooked; the face naked, and the feet have four toes palmated at the base. This fowl was much valued by the Egyptians for destroying serpents. It is said by Bruce not now to inhabit Egypt, but to be found in Abyssinia.

The ibis of the Egyptians is a species of the genus Scolopax. It was anciently venerated either because it devoured serpents, or because the marking of its plumage resembled one of the phases of the moon, or because it appeared in Egypt with the rising of the Nile.

The ibis is common in Egypt during the overflowing of the Nile.

ICARIAN, a. [from Icarus, the son of Daedalus, who fled on wings to escape the resentment of Minos, but his flight being too high was fatal to him, as the sun melted the wax that cemented his wings.]

Adventurous in flight; soaring too high for safety, like Icarus.

ICE, n.

1. Water or other fluid congealed, or in a solid state; a solid, transparent, brittle substance, formed by the congelation of a fluid, by means of the abstraction of the heat necessary to preserve its fluidity, or to use language, congealed by cold.

2. Concreted sugar.

To break the ice, is to make the first opening to any attempt; to remove the first obstructions or difficulties; to open the way.

ICE, v.t. To cover with ice; to convert into ice.

1. To cover with concreted sugar; to frost.

2. To chill; to freeze.

ICEBERG, n. [ice and a hill.] A hill or mountain of ice, or a vast body of ice accumulated in valleys in high northern latitudes.

This term is applied to such elevated masses as exist in the valleys of the frigid zones; to those which are found on the surface of fixed ice; and to ice of great thickness and highth in a floating state. These lofty floating masses are sometimes detached from the icebergs on shore, and sometimes formed at a distance from any land. They are found in both the frigid zones, and are sometimes carried towards the equator as low as 40 degrees.

ICEBLINK, n. A name given by seamen to a bright appearance near the horizon, occasioned by the ice, and observed before the ice itself is seen.

ICEBOAT, n. A boat constructed for moving on ice.

ICEBOUND, a. In seaman’s language, totally surrounded with ice, so as to be incapable of advancing.

ICEBUILT, a. Composed of ice.

1. Loaded with ice.

ICEHOUSE, n. [ice and house.] A repository for the preservation of ice during warm weather; a pit with a drain for conveying off the water of the ice when dissolved, and usually covered with a roof.

ICEISLE, n. iceile. [ice and isle.] A vast body of floating ice, such as is often seen in the Atlantic, off the banks of Newfoundland.

ICELANDER, n. A native of Iceland.

ICELANDIC, a. Pertaining to Iceland; and as a noun, the language of the Icelanders.

Iceland spar, calcarious spar, in laminated masses, easily divisible into rhombs, perfectly similar to the primitive rhomb.

ICEPLANT, n. A plant of the genus Mesembryanthemem, sprinkled with pellucid, glittering, icy pimples.

ICESPAR, n. A variety of feldspar, the crystals of which resemble ice.

ICHNEUMON, n. [L. from the Gr. to follow the steps, a footstep; a follower of the crocodile.]

An animal of the genus Viverra, or weasel kind. It has a tail tapering to a point, and its toes are distant from each other. It inhabits Egypt, Barbary and India. It destroys the most venomous serpents, and seeks the eggs of the crocodile, digging them out of the sand, eating them and destroying the young. In India and Egypt, this animal is domesticated and kept for destroying rats and mice.

Ichneumon-fly, a genus of flies, of the order of hymenopters, containing several hundred species. These animals have jaws, but no tongue; the antennae have more than thirty joints, and are kept in continual motion. The abdomen is generally petiolated, or joined to the body by a pedicle. These animals are great destroyers of caterpillars, plant-lice and other insects, as the ichneumon is of the eggs and young of the crocodile.

Ichnography.] Pertaining to ichnography; describing a ground- plot.

ICHNOGRAPHY, n. [Gr. a footstep, and to describe.] In perspective, the view of any thing cut off by a plane parallel to the horizon, just at the base of it, a ground-plot.

ICHOR, n. [Gr.] A thin watery humor, like serum or whey.

1. Sanious matter flowing from an ulcer.

ICHOROUS, a. Like ichor; thin; water; serous.

1. Sanious.

ICHTHYOCOL, ICHTHYOCOLLA, n. [Gr. a fish, and glue.] Fish-glue; isinglass; a glue prepared from the sounds of fish.

ICHTHYOLITE, n. [Gr. a fish, and a stone.] Fossil fish; or the figure or impression of a fish in rock.

ICHTHYOLOGICAL, a. Pertaining to ichthyology.

Ichthyology.] One versed in ichthyology.

ICHTHYOLOGY, n. [Gr. a fish, and discourse.] The science of fishes, or that part of zoology which treats of fishes, their structure, form and classification, their habits, uses, etc.

ICHTHYOPHAGOUS, a. [Gr. fish, and to eat.] Eating or subsisting on fish.

ICHTHYOPHAGY, n. [supra.] The practice of eating fish.


ICICLE, n. A pendent conical mass of ice, formed by the freezing of water or other fluid as it flows down an inclined plane, or collects in drops and is suspended. In the north of England, it is called ickle.

ICINESS, n. The state of being icy, or of being very cold.

1. The state of generating ice.

ICING, ppr. Covering with concreted sugar.

ICON, n. [Gr. an image, to resemble.] An image or representation. [Not in use.]

ICONOCLAST, n. [Gr. an image, and a breaker, to break.] A breaker or destroyer of images; a name which Catholics give to those who reject the use of images in religious worship.

ICONOCLASTIC, a. Breaking images.

ICONOGRAPHY, n. [Gr. an image, to describe.] The description of images or ancient statues, busts, semi-busts, paintings in fresco, mosaic works, and ancient pieces of miniature.

ICONOLATER, n. [Gr. an image, and a servant.] One that worships images; a name given to Romanists.

ICONOLOGY, n. [Gr. an image, and a discourse.] The doctrine of images or representations.

ICOSAHEDRAL, a. [Gr. twenty, and seat, basis.] Having twenty equal sides.

ICOSAHEDRON, n. [supra.] A solid of twenty equal sides.

In geometry, a regular solid, consisting of twenty triangular pyramids, whose vertices meet in the center of a sphere supposed to circumscribe it, and therefore have their highths and bases equal.

ICOSANDER, n. [Gr. twenty, and a male.] In botany, a plant having twenty or more stamens inserted in the calyx.

Note - A writer on botany has suggested that as the proper character of plants of this class is the insertion of the stamens in the calyx, it might be expedient to denominate the class, Calycandria.

ICOSANDRIAN, n. Pertaining to the class of plants, Icosandria, having twenty or more stamens inserted in the calyx.

ICTERIC, ICTERICAL, a. [L. ictericus, from icterus, jaundice.] Affected with the jaundice.

1. Good in the cure of the jaundice.

ICTERIC, n. A remedy for the jaundice.

ICTERITIOUS, a. [L. icterus, jaundice.] Yellow; having the color of the skin when it is affected by the jaundice.

ICY, a. [from ice.] Abounding with ice; as the icy regions of the north.

1. Cold; frosty; as icy chains.

2. Made of ice.

3. Resembling ice; chilling.

Religion lays not an icy hand on the true joys of life.

4. Cold; frigid; destitute of affection or passion.

5. Indifferent; unaffected; backward.

ICY-PEARLED, a. Studded with spangles of ice.

I’d, contracted from I would, or I had.

IDEA, n. [L. idea; Gr. to see, L. video.]

1. Literally, that which is seen; hence, form, image, model of any thing in the mind; that which is held or comprehended by the understanding or intellectual faculties.

I have used the idea, to express whatever is meant by phantasm, notion, species, or whatever it is which the mind can be employed about in thinking.

Whatever the mind perceives in itself, or is the immediate object of perception, thought or understanding, that I call an idea.

The attention of the understanding to the objects acting on it, by which it becomes sensible of the impressions they make, is called by logicians, perception, and the notices themselves as they exist in the mind, as the materials of thinking and knowledge, are distinguished by the name of ideas.

An idea is the reflex perception of objects, after the original perception or impression has been felt by the mind.

In popular language, idea signifies the same thing as conception, apprehension, notion. To have an idea of any thing is to conceive it. In philosophical use, it does not signify that act of the mind which we call thought or conception, but some object of thought.

According to modern writers on mental philosophy, an idea is the object of thought, or the notice which the mind takes of its perceptions.

Darwin uses idea for a notion of external things which our organs bring us acquainted with originally, and he defines it, a contraction, motion or configuration of the fibers which constitute the immediate organ of sense; synonymous with which he sometimes uses sensual motion, in contradistinction to muscular motion.

1. In popular use, idea signifies notion, conception, thought, opinion, and even purpose or intention.

2. Image in the mind.

Her sweet idea wandered through his thoughts.

[A bad use of the word.]

3. An opinion; a proposition. These decisions are incompatible with the idea, that the principles are derived from the civil law.

IDEAL, a. Existing in idea; intellectual; mental; as ideal knowledge.

There will always be a wide interval between practical and ideal excellence.

1. Visionary; existing in fancy or imagination only; as ideal good.

2. That considers ideas as images, phantasms, or forms in the mind; as the ideal theory or philosophy.

IDEALISM, n. The system or theory that makes every thing to consist in ideas, and denies the existence of material bodies.

IDEALIZE, v.i. To form ideas.

IDEALLY, adv. Intellectually; mentally; in idea.

IDEATE, v.t. To form in idea; to fancy. [Not in use.]

IDENTIC, IDENTICAL, a. [L. idem, the same.] The same; not different; as the identical person; the identical proposition.

We found on the thief the identical goods that were lost.

IDENTIFICATION, n. The act of making or proving to be the same.

IDENTIFIED, pp. Ascertained or made to be the same.

IDENTIFY, v.t. [L. idem, the same, and facio, to make.]

1. To ascertain or prove to be the same. The owner of the goods found them in the possession of the thief, and identified them.

2. To make to be the same; to unite or combine in such a manner as to make one interest, purpose or intention; to treat as having the same use; to consider as the same in effect.

Paul has identified the two ordinances, circumcision and baptism, and thus, by demonstrating that they have one and the same use and meaning, he has exhibited to our view the very same seal of God’s covenant.

That treaty in fact identified Spain with the republican government of France, by a virtual acknowledgment of unqualified vassalage, and by specific stipulations of unconditional defense.

Every precaution is taken to identify the interests of the people, and of the rules.

IDENTIFY, v.i. To become the same; to coalesce in interest, purpose, use, effect, etc.

--An enlightened self-interest, which, when well understood, they tell us will identify with an interest more enlarged and public.

IDENTIFYING, ppr. Ascertaining or proving to be the same.

1. Making the same in interest, purpose, use, efficacy, etc.

IDENTITY, n. Sameness, as distinguished from similitude and diversity. We speak of the identity of goods found, the identity of persons, or of personal identity.

IDES, n. plu. [L. idus.] In the ancient Roman calendar, eight days in each month; the first day of which fell on the 13th of January, February, April, June, August, September, November and December, and on the 15th of March, May, July, and October. The ides came between the calends and the nones, and were reckoned backwards. This method of reckoning is still retained in the chancery of Rome, and in the calendar of the breviary.

IDIOCRASY, n. [Gr. proper, peculiar to one’s self, and mixture, temperament, to mix.]

Peculiarity of constitution; that temperament, or state of constitution, which is peculiar to a person.

IDIOCRATIC, IDIOCRATICAL, a. Peculiar in constitution.

Idiot.] A defect of understanding; properly, a natural defect.

Idiocy and lunacy excuse from the guilt of crime.

IDIOELECTRIC, a. [Gr. separate from others, peculiar to one’s self, and electric.]

Electric per se, or containing electricity in its natural state.

IDIOM, n. [L. idioma, from Gr. proper, or peculiar to one’s self; Eng. widow, wide.]

1. A mode of expression peculiar to a language; peculiarity of expression or phraseology. In this sense, it is used in the plural to denote forms of speech or phraseology, peculiar to a nation or language.

And to just idioms fix our doubtful speech.

2. The genius or peculiar east of a language.

He followed the Latin language, but did not comply with the idiom of ours.

3. Dialect.

IDIOMATIC, IDIOMATICAL, a. Peculiar to a language; pertaining to the particular genius or modes of expression which belong to a language; as an idiomatic phrase.

IDIOMATICALLY, adv. According to the idiom of a language.

Idiopathy.] Pertaining to idiopathy; indicating a disease peculiar to a particular part of the body, and not arising from any preceding disease; as idiopathic head-ach. The epilepsy is idiopathic, when it proceeds from some fault in the brain; but sympathetic, when it is the consequence of some other disorder.

The term idiopathic is also applied to general as well as local diseases, as idiopathic fever. It then signifies, not sympathetic or symptomatic, not arising from any previous disease.

IDIOPATHICALLY, adv. By means of its own disease or affections; not sympathetically.

IDIOPATHY, n. [Gr. proper, peculiar, and suffering, disease, to suffer.]

1. An original disease in a particular part of the body; a disease peculiar to some part of the body and not proceeding from another disease.

2. Peculiar affection.

IDIO-REPULISVE, a. Repulsive by itself; as the idio-repulsive power of heat.

IDIOSYNCRASY, n. [Gr. proper, with, and temperament.] A peculiar temperament or organization of a body, by which it is rendered more liable to certain disorders than bodies differently constituted.


1. A natural fool or fool from his birth; a human being in form, but destitute of reason, or the ordinary intellectual powers of man.

A person who has understanding enough to measure a yard of cloth, number twenty correctly, tell the days of the week, etc., is not an idiot in the eye of the law.

2. A foolish person; one unwise.

IDIOTIC, a. Like an idiot; foolish; sottish.

IDIOTISH, a. Like an idiot; partaking of idiocy; foolish.

IDIOTISM, n. [Gr. a form of speech taken from the vulgar.]

1. An idiom; a peculiarity of expression; a mode of expression peculiar to a language; a peculiarity in the structure of words and phrases.

Scholars sometimes give terminations and idiotisms suitable to their native language, to words newly invented.

2. Idiocy.

But it would be well to restrain this word to its proper signification, and keep idiocy and idiotism distinct.

IDIOTIZE, v.i. To become stupid.

IDLE, a.

1. Not employed; unoccupied with business; inactive; doing nothing.

Why stand ye here all the day idle? Matthew 20:6.

To be idle, is to be vicious.

2. Slothful; given to rest and ease; averse to labor or employment; lazy; as an idle man; an idle fellow.

3. Affording leisure; vacant; not occupied; as idle time; idle hours.

4. Remaining unused; unemployed; applied to things; as, my sword or spear is idle.

5. Useless; vain; ineffectual; as idle rage.

6. Unfruitful; barren; not productive of good.

Of antres vast and idle desarts.

Idle weeds.

7. Trifling; vain; of no importance; as an idle story; an idle reason; idle arguments.

8. Unprofitable; not tending to edification.

Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36.

Idle differs from lazy; the latter implying constitutional or habitual aversion or indisposition to labor or action, sluggishness; whereas idle, in its proper sense, denotes merely unemployed. An industrious man may be idle, but he cannot be lazy.

IDLE, v.i. To lose or spend time in inaction, or without being employed in business.

To idle away, in a transitive sense, to spend in idleness; as, to idle away time.

IDLEHEADED, a. [idle and head.] Foolish; unreasonable.

1. Delirious; infatuated. [Little used.]

IDLENESS, n. Abstinence from labor or employment; the state of a person who is unemployed in labor, or unoccupied in business; the state of doing nothing. Idleness is the parent of vice.

Through the idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. Ecclesiastes 10:18.

1. Aversion to labor; reluctance to be employed, or to exertion either of body or mind; laziness; sloth; sluggishness. This is properly laziness; but idleness is often the effect of laziness, and sometimes this word may be used for it.

2. Unimportance; trivialness.

Apes of idleness.

3. Inefficacy; uselessness. [Little used.]

4. Barrenness; worthlessness. [Little used.]

5. Emptiness; foolishness; infatuation; as idleness of brain. [Little used.]

IDLEPATED, a. Idleheaded; stupid.

IDLER, n. One who does nothing; one who spends his time in inaction, or without being engaged in business.

1. A lazy person; a sluggard.

IDLESBY, n. An idle or lazy person. [Not used.]

IDLY, adv. In an idle manner; without employment.

1. Lazily; sluggishly.

2. Foolishly; uselessly; in a trifling way.

A shilling spent idly by a fool, may be saved by a wiser person.

3. Carelessly; without attention.

4. Vainly; ineffectually; as, to reason idly against truth.

IDOCRASE, n. [Gr. form, and mixture; a mixed figure.]

A mineral, the vesuvian of Werner, sometimes massive, and very often in shining prismatic crystals. Its primitive form is a four-sided prism with square bases. It is found near Vesuvius, in unaltered rocks ejected by the volcano; also in primitive rocks, in various other localities.

IDOL, n. [L. idolum; Gr. form or to see.]

1. An image, form or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship; a pagan deity. Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold.

The gods of the nations are idols. Psalm 96:5.

2. An image.

Nor ever idol seemed so much alive.

3. A person loved and honored to adoration. The prince was the idol of the people.

4. Any thing on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21.

An idol is any thing which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures.

5. A representation. [Not in use.]


1. A worshiper of idols; one who pays divine honors to images, statues, or representations of any thing made by hands; one who worships as a deity that which is not God; a pagan.

2. An adorer; a great admirer.

IDOLATRESS, n. A female worshiper of idols.

IDOLATRIZE, v.i. To worship idols.

IDOLATRIZE, v.t. To adore; to worship.

IDOLATROUS, a. Pertaining to idolatry; partaking of the nature of idolatry, or of the worship of false gods; consisting in the worship of idols; as idolatrous worship.

1. Consisting in or partaking of an excessive attachment or reverence; as an idolatrous veneration for antiquity.

IDOLATROUSLY, adv. In an idolatrous manner; with excessive reverence.

IDOLATRY, n. [L. idololatria. Gr. idol, and to worship or serve.]

1. The worship of idols, images, or any thing made by hands, or which is not God.

Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, etc. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.

2. Excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.

IDOLISH, a. Idolatrous.

IDOLISM, n. The worship of idols. [Little used.]

IDOLIST, n. A worship of images; a poetical word.

IDOLIZE, v.t. To love to excess; to love or reverence to adoration; as, to idolize gold or wealth; to idolize children; to idolize a virtuous magistrate or a hero.

IDOLIZED, pp. Loved or reverenced to adoration.

IDOLIZER, n. One who idolizes, or loves to reverence.

IDOLIZING, ppr. Loving or revering to an excess bordering on adoration.

IDONEOUS, a. [L. idoneus; probably from the root of Gr. to be strong, able or sufficient.]

Fit; suitable; proper; convenient; adequate. [Little used.]